Fernando Alonso gets early Indy 500 test debut on May 3
|By Mitchell Adam||Thursday, April 20th 2017, 21:41 GMT|
McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso will start his maiden Indianapolis 500 programme earlier than expected, in a test early next month.
The two-time F1 world champion will miss the Monaco Grand Prix to contest the May 29 race, in a McLaren entry run by Honda squad Andretti Autosport.
Alonso will visit this weekend's Barber IndyCar event, with a test day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway now scheduled for May 3, the Wednesday after the Russian Grand Prix.
Team boss Michael Andretti, who will act as Alonso's strategist, said last week that an opportunity for the Spaniard to turn his first oval and IndyCar laps before Indy 500 practice started was being explored.
Otherwise, Alonso would have been waiting for practice and rookie orientation to commence on Monday May 15, one day after he contests the Spanish GP.
It is expected Alonso will spend time at Andretti Autosport's and Honda Performance Development's bases during his upcoming trip to the USA.
"One good thing is about this is that we know how to deal with rookies, and we'll have to consider Fernando a rookie," Andretti, whose team will run six cars in the event, told Autosport last week.
"But we know what a talent he is, too, and he'll be up to speed very quick, running right there with his team-mates.
"Then the next step will be getting him in traffic. We'll do that when he feels comfortable running by himself, and we'll work from there.
"The advantage that he has is a lot of team-mates there to help him out, if he's got any questions."